My Four-Eyed Summer

My relationship with lunettes goes back to 5th grade, when a boy in my class saw me squinting at the chalkboard and told me I might need glasses. I was utterly appalled, of course. The teacher had obviously written “HO CNEWIHG GUM,” and really, what business did a kid who wore “husky” jeans have calling anyone else near-sighted? The gall!

But I was nearsighted. And after years of increased glasses wearage, I got contacts, which I wore without incident until June. Then, a freak eye problem forced me to spend the long, hot summer in glasses.  I don’t want to brag or anything, but for a while “they” thought I might have the worst eye infection known to man. It was horrendous and the tale could fill another blog post, but for now I’ll just say that I consider a piece of protozoan trash called acanthamoeba to be my micro-archnemesis.

How I felt in glasses

Until then, I had never minded and actually enjoyed wearing glasses occasionally. I have two moderately funky pairs – one black and Ray-Ban, one tortoiseshell and Prada – that seemed socially acceptable to me. But after a few days of forced glasses-wear, I fell into a deep malaise. It was one thing to wear glasses when it was your own choice – when you yourself decided to give your eyes a break, when you yourself wanted to pose as a hipster while viewing an indie movie. It was entirely another when you had no say in the matter, when an amoeba might or might not be feasting on your cornea.

Glasses in winter are also different from glasses in summer.  Pair them with a chunky sweater and boots, and you’re instantly a stylie magazine editor, screenwriter or art gallery director. Pair them with a flowy sundress or halter top and jean shorts, and you’re just plain dorky. Walk down the street in February, no problem. Walk down the street in July and endure your glasses sliding down your nose on a trail of sweat. Or fogging up from the 200% humidity.

I wore glasses to the beach, barbecues, sceney restaurants, a black-tie wedding, and yoga (please do not try this at home). I was forced to blow-dry my hair when I might otherwise have gone wavy, because I couldn’t risk adding another layer of doofiness to my already handicapped appearance.

I knew things could be 1,000 times worse, but I couldn’t snap out of the malaise. I had no idea how long the eye infection would linger, and with no choice but glasses, I started to feel a way I hadn’t felt since high school: different from everyone else and separate from the rest of the world.  Surely everyone else was relaxed, at peace, and enjoying the summer. I was wearing glasses and sitting in the eye doctor’s office every other day. I had to cancel a trip to see my sister because of this thing. The glasses I had once been proud of selecting without two or three fashion consults no longer seemed funky but instead ginormous and cartoony. I expected to look in the mirror one day and see a plastic schnozz and Groucho moustache in the reflection.  The mere blurry sight of their cases when I got out of the shower was repulsive and depressing.

I’m not sure why the whole thing bothered me so much. Maybe it was pure vanity. Maybe it was the disruption of my normal routine. Or maybe it was because the glasses were a constant reminder that something wasn’t right. I don’t know, but I felt awful, and like the world was out of whack.

Four times a week, then once a week, then once a month, I returned to the corneal specialist praying that I’d get the go-ahead to ditch the glasses. Finally — FINALLY! — I did. My co-workers cheered when I walked in wearing eyeliner and contacts. I couldn’t have been happier. It didn’t matter that I quickly realized how much better my vision was in glasses. Or that I’d noticed a lot fewer tension headaches during the null-contact phase. I would endure the slightly fuzzy computer screen and sensation that an elephant was sitting on my forehead for a sense of normalcy and the ability to wear my non-prescription Wayfarer sunglasses again.

As is common after an ordeal, I learned a valuable lesson that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I know, I know – you’re reading with baited breath for the pearl of wisdom I’m about to reveal. What deep insight have I gained from my brush with dendritic corneal ulcers? What new perspective do I have now that I’ve stared into the eyes of the devil amoeba? I’ll tell you. Here it is. Are you ready?

I don’t care how itchy your eyes are. I don’t care how sausage-like your  upper lids are.  I don’t care that thick tears are pouring down your check and you’re not crying.  Word to the wise: never go to the eye doctor.


My Four-Eyed Summer

50 Things I’ll Probably Never Do This Summer

I have no excuse for my blogging hiatus other than mental laziness. And the devastation I felt when the famous blogger behind Hate & Anger told me my last post didn’t do it for him. (Side note: if you knew me and/or my sister, it would have.) Sniff sniff. In any case, I have turned once again to the inspiration of Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World-Famous Writer’s Workshop. In honor of today’s solstice, I now present to you my summer bucket list. Enjoy.

  1. Find a way to achieve vintage tan: the kind of super-brown shade I used to turn in the buck-toothed summer days of yore.
  2. Be more patient
  3. Be less snarky
  4. Learn to meditate
  5. Attend event at Kabbalah Center
  6. Without being snarky about it
  7. Compose hilarious, heart-warming memoir entitled “Cycles of Normalcy”
  8. Sell “Cycles of Normalcy” to big publisher
  9. Receive many offers from film studios who can’t wait to adapt “Cycles of Normalcy”
  10. Be stalked by Eva Longoria and Sandra Bullock, both of whom are desperate to play me in “Cycles of Normalcy”
  11. Find out that the girl who played Weiner Dog in “Welcome to the Dollhouse” is actually cast to play me
  12. Learn to fall asleep without the (safe) use of pharmaceuticals
  13. Walk a treadmill mile at least four times a week without dying
  14. Return (ha!) to yoga
  15. Get a grip
  16. Find a way to haunt Loren’s apartment, Brady Bunch-style, so she can never sell it
  17. Find soul mate for Kiki
  18. See Wendy in Connecticut
  19. See Lauren in Boston
  20. Pinpoint cause of headaches: TMJ? Migraines? Pulled muscle? Insanity?
  21. Stop talking about Anthony Weiner and his wife
  22. Accept and embrace Jewfro
  23. Get luscious caramel highlights to cover gray and improve look of Jewfro
  24. Invent version of keratin treatment that doesn’t contain poison so that Jewish girls everywhere can end their suffering
  25. Stop obsessing about idea of having a “lil chicken cutlet” (thanks for the term, TM!) and either do it or don’t do it but either way, shut the fork up about it
  26. Learn to walk in platforms without falling off them and severely pulling ankle muscle
  27. Read Tina Fey’s book “Bossypants”
  28. Refrain from obsessing about why I haven’t written “Cycles of Normalcy”
  29. Spend as long a weekend as possible at the beach
  30. Visit City Island
  31. Shave legs every day
  32. Go on tour of Harlem culminating in gospel brunch
  33. Schedule cousinly reunion
  34. Cook brown bag chicken
  35. Attend modern dance event at the Joyce Theater
  36. Annoy Keith less
  37. Get over Hamptons-phobia
  38. Return (ha!) to blogging once a week
  39. Give money to Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood, American Cancer Society and Amnesty International
  40. Read other sections of the Times on Sunday besides Style
  41. Spend more quality time with lil sis
  42. Finish grown-up-izing apartment
  43. Convince Keith we need new Room & Board coffee table
  44. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, STOP PICKING CUTICLES. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know how likely that is.
  45. Become Twitter expert
  46. Cease all purchases of clothing and accessories that are black, gray or beige
  47. Except maybe for these stylie Pour la Victoire gladiators
  48. Spend nice suburban day at Mountainside Community pool with SIL, BIL and super-cute nieces (hint hint SIL & BIL)
  49. Plan anniversary trip to Caribbean
  50. Score front-page coverage for company in NYT and Wall Street Journal
50 Things I’ll Probably Never Do This Summer

Sole Mates

As I take stock of my vast but largely useless footwear collection, I can’t help but notice how much my pre-Keith relationships with boys have mirrored my relationships with shoes (and vice-versa). As a result, just as I have been shaped by countless boy woes, so too has there been permanent scarring (both literal and physical) from the various shoes in my life.  (You didn’t really think you were getting a post with no mention of childhood trauma, did you?!)

It started with the black patent leather Mary Janes everyone else in my kindergarten class had. Even the boys, I am still convinced.  One girl even had them in pink and white too. I remember thinking of her as “super lucky ducky.” Which is 5-year-old-speak for “total beeyatch.”

Would YOU want this on the bottom of your shoes?

How I longed to see them smiling back at me in the mirror, their shiny ebony goodness sparkling against pristine white ankle socks trimmed in lace ruffles. Sigh. Jan deemed them “impractical” (aka boy who was cute but not marriage material). So, in my class picture that year, you can see me sitting pigtailed and buck-toothed in a sailor dress and … dull red Buster Brown lace-up shoes (aka the dorkuses with names like Elliot and Howard who liked me … and who were in turn hated by me but of course, adored by Jan).

There were the clogs our slutty babysitter wore that I had to have. Dangerous to walk in (aka super-cute junior and lead singer in a band who, by some miracle, actually liked me, but whose failure to do well in French class earned him a reputation, in my house, as a bad seed).

The uber-cool lavender Kangaroo sneakers we were only allowed to wear twice a week.  Bad for your feet (aka self-centered, egomaniacal boyfriend who was totally unsupportive).

The Frye boots that another slutty babysitter and someone’s even sluttier older sister sported. Not available in kiddie size 12, which I was until approximately 7th grade (aka boy who was a senior when I was a freshman/ was way too old and mature for me).

The Minnetonka and later Bass moccasins that were too wide for my narrow feet (aka any number of boys who were just overall bad fits).

The faaancy satin kitten-heeled pumps that were beyond appealing in their natural pearly white state.  Forced at gunpoint to dye pink for use with heinous bat mitzvah dress (aka boy from the next town over who might one day be date-able, but who was in his current state a disheveled mess with no social skills).

Complete and utter lack of appropriate weekend shoe other than white canvas Keds in college (aka the duller-than-doornails boys I went to school with).

The backless Charles David stilettos that I refused to stop wearing on Saturday nights even though they left me almost paralyzed the next morning (aka the long-term hook-up I couldn’t walk away from even though his refusal to commit caused me a year of pain and suffering). I could go on.

Modern Vintage "Willhemena" boot -- aka Keith

Now that Keith is in my life, thankfully, it’s just the shoes I have to worry about. And I do worry. Just because I was eventually able to fit into shoes whose soles were not adorned with a creepily winking, giant hat-wearing blonde kid and his evil-looking dog (who clearly has canine Graves’ disease) doesn’t mean my shoe life is complete. The last few winters, it’s been a constant struggle to find boots that would work over skinny jeans and under non-skinny jeans. That had a heel, but were walkable. That could be worn with long-sleeve t-shirts or going-out tops. That didn’t cost $400. That didn’t have an 18″ calf circumference.  It’s a lot to ask for, my friends. I happened to find this very pair (thanks, Modern Vintage) within days Keith’s proposal. Coincidence? I think not.

With the warm – or equatorial Africa-like, I should say – weather upon us, it’s now the quest for perfect sandals that keeps me up and searching Zappos at night. I have the flats covered. The metallic Dolce Vita gladiators, the frosty brown Havaiana flip-flops, the faux crocodile-skin Sam Edelman thongs. It’s the heels that torture me. I’ve accepted that a platform wedge of some sort is the way to go – when done right, it’s the most manageable and versatile of the summer options. But all my research has come up short. Everything is either way too expensive, way too wrong colored, way too covered in S&M-ish studs and/or, most often, way too high.  So what’s a smurf-sized girl to do when she craves a little height but doesn’t want to end up in traction?

Frick on a cobblered stick.

Hello Luella. I so wish we could be friends.

On the subway, along Broadway, in the Times Style section, I watch as fellow ladies gallivant off to work or dinner in beautiful black and camel-colored four- and five-inch hoofery. They seem to walk effortlessly, their ankles unbroken, their knee caps still in place. They are not limping. They are not holding the stairway railing for support. They are not moving at an abnormally slow pace. I don’t get it. So my question to you, heel-wearing ladies of New York, is this. Are you simply anatomically better equipped than I am to walk in these shoes? Are these shoes really the ones for you? Or are you settling – faking it – like I did for so many years, suffering in silence for the sake of having a boyfriend fashion?

Sole Mates